C Spire’s Commitment To Base Camp And Everest Is Monumental For WV, Mississippi

DAVE’S WORLD
By David Howell

Last Friday was another big day for Base Camp Coding Academy (BCAA) and Everest. Actually it was a big day for Water Valley and the entire state with the announcement of continued commitment from the C Spire Foundation to support the coding academy.
The company’s contribution, now $75,000 annually, provides 20 percent of the operating cost for Base Camp. Money from this company and others is used to provide full scholarships for students accepted into the coding academy.
C Spire officials made the trip to Water Valley on a rainy Friday afternoon for a tour of Everest. The group included James Creekmore, who founded C Spire with his brother.
Top company officials visiting also included the company’s CEO and CTO, along with the executive director of the C Spire Foundation.
The Mississippi-based company which has grown to the nation’s largest privately owned technology company has been a huge supporter of BCCA since the program stated.
It would probably be good to pause here, to explain more about Everest. The building was purchased from the City of Water Valley by BCCA, a non-profit organization. Following an unprecedented fundraising effort, work started in January to transform the building into the state’s first rural education and innovation hub. In addition to housing classes for BCCA and Northwest Mississippi Community College, the hub will also serve as a business incubator for small tech companies. There is already one tenant renting an office.
Roughly one-third of the building remains unoccupied and the BCCA Board of Trustees have big plans for this space. Their dream is to land a larger tech company that will employee dozens or hundreds of employees.
For all of this to happen in a rural area, high speed internet was a must and this was another void filled by C Spire. The company is providing fiber internet to Everest, an ongoing investment that included running fiber to the building earlier in the summer.
BCCA co-founder Kagan Coughlin said the availability of high speed internet was a huge hurdle before the offer from C Spire.
“We have the best you can get in the country today, and it was a present from C Spire,” Coughlin explained. He described the gift as a testament to the company’s belief that Mississippi students should have the same educational opportunities and access to careers as others in more populated areas of the country.
Now back to last Friday, the stories about BCCA changing lives was the highlight of the day. Multiple graduates of the coding academy, now employed at C Spire, explained how the opportunity changed their lives.
“My life is a dream, at times it doesn’t seem real. Two years ago I was in high school,” Ray Turner explained. Turner graduated from Water Valley High School in 2018. Like other students in the program, within weeks of graduation he started the rigorous year-long program at BCCA and graduated in May, 2019.
His story is a little different, he struggled to find immediate employment in the tech field and took what he described as a local job for four months before his big break.
“I didn’t get worried, I knew that was an option,” Turner explained as he continued to search for a job that would launch his career as a software programmer.
“I knew that I could do the work, I just needed an opportunity,” he continued. He continued to send out applications and with continued support from BCCA, he ultimately landed an interview with C Spire.
“I gave it my all,” he said about the interview as the company had three different positions open. The call came about a month later and he was hired in January.
“The thing about Base Camp, they never give up on their students. They say it and they mean it. I trust the process,” he added.
When I asked Ray where he thought he would be in a decade, his response was immediate. “At C-Spire, I love it. I am living my dream.”
Ray then had his own question.
“Where do you think Water Valley will be in 10 years?” he asked as we stood in front of Everest and admired the new sign that had been installed a day earlier.
“Everest, Mississippi’s First Rural Education and Innovation Hub.”

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